The Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 football team must defeat Curaçao tomorrow afternoon in Kingston, Jamaica or suffer early elimination from the Turkey 2013 Under-20 World Cup qualifying series.
The teenaged “Soca Warriors” fell 2-0 to Haiti yesterday in Caribbean Football Union (CFU) action at the Waterhouse Stadium. In the other Group A match-up, Puerto Rico defeated Curaçao 2-1 to move level on three points with Trinidad and Tobago.
The Haitian team has six points but can still be eliminated if it loses to Puerto Rico by more than two goals on Friday in the second game of a Group A double header.
Curaçao, in spite of losing its first two group matches, can still qualify too with any triumph over Trinidad and Tobago once Haiti defeats Puerto Rico in the other fixture.
By new Caribbean Football Union (CFU) tournament rules, if teams are locked on the same number of points, goals scored against the eliminated team are not considered for the tie-breaker. So, if Trinidad and Tobago eliminates Curaçao and Puerto Rico defeats Haiti, only goals scored in games between Haiti, Puerto Rico and T&T will be considered.
Trinidad and Tobago defeated Puerto Rico 2-0 in its opening match on Monday.
Ross Russell, the national under-20 and Defence Force coach, might be musing over the various mathematical possibilities today as he prepares for tomorrow’s fixture. If it is any consolation, his team has been in this spot before.
In August, the young Warriors opened their group with a 2-1 win over but Guyana but were then spanked 3-0 by Suriname. They recovered to whip hosts St Vincent and the Grenadines 3-0 in their final group outing to qualify for this round.
Russell had hoped to avoid a similar must win situation in Jamaica but it was not to be.
The Trinidad and Tobago team, which was without injured attacker Adan Noel, created several goal scoring chances but failed to take them with midfielders Xavier Rajpaul and captain Duane Muckette particularly culpable.
But those opportunities were largely against the run of play as Haiti controlled proceedings led by 19-year-old striker James Jean-Francois, who represents League Two French club Le Mans’ reserve team.
Haitian midfielder Horat Luckner got the opening goal for the French islanders with a rocket in the 31st minute while Trinidad and Tobago custodian Quesi Weston was beaten again by a Samuel Pompée penalty, two minutes into the second half, after an Alvin Jones infringement.
Russell conceded that his boys were outplayed but remains confident they can still manage a vital win over table-proppers, Curaçao.
“That’s football sometimes,” Russell told the TTFF media. “It didn’t go according to plan for us. Haiti had more fight in them and they deserved the win.”
Skillful DirecTV W Connection midfielder Jomal Williams was supposed to be a key asset for the Warriors but he was substituted early in the second half while Russell again bemoaned his team’s wayward finishing.
“Our midfield needs to adjust because they didn’t show up today,” said Russell. “There are some things to talk through and tidy up going into Friday’s game. We need to improve our finishing. Our guys need to be a bit calmer but also have that killer instinct in front of goal. I think they still have a lot of the College league syndrome in them.
“We need more urgency in our play and a longer period with these players to drill certain things into them. Once we go through to the next phase, which I think we will do, we need to continue our preparations and address a lot of things as soon as we get back home.”
Russell’s troops will attempt to make amends tomorrow. Curaçao led in both games against Haiti and Puerto before eventually succumbing in the second half.
Trinidad and Tobago should not anticipate a walkover.
T&T: 20.Quesi Weston; 2.Anthony Charles, 3.Alvin Jones, 7.Neil Benjamin, 5.Damani Richards; 11.Xavier Rajpaul, 8.Duane Muckette, 10.Jomal Williams (19.Marcus Gomez 62); 14.Akeem Garcia, 17.Shackiel Henry (12.Shaquille Holder 52), 15.Shaquille Nesbitt (18.Garvin Samaroo 73).
Unused subs: Kevin Dodds (GK), Dwight Quintero, Shannon Gomez, Keane McIvor.
Coach: Ross Russell
Referee: Sherwin Johnson (Guyana)
CFU Under-20 results
(7 November 2012)
Puerto Rico 2 (Joseph Marrero 61 pen, Reid Strain 65), Curaçao 1 (Michael Maria 17)
Haiti 2 ( Horat Luckner 31, Samuel Pompée 47 pen), T&T 0 in Kingston[standings league_id=3 template=extend logo=true]